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Us constitution class - part 1


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Progressive Democrats of America's 8-part class on the US Constitution, at Beaver County Community College, May-June 2011, Sci-Tech 4005, 7pm Tuesday

Progressive Democrats of America's 8-part class on the US Constitution, at Beaver County Community College, May-June 2011, Sci-Tech 4005, 7pm Tuesday

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  • 1. The U.S Constitution, Then and Now The History, Debates and Democratic Evolution that Shaped Our Country’s Founding Documents—and Why We Still Need to Improve and Defend Them
  • 2. How We’ll Study the Topic
    • Examining the History From the Beginning of the New World Leading Up to the Constitution
    • Examining the Debates and Mass Movements at the Time that Shaped and Changed the Constitution
    • Examining the Varied Interests of All Those Involved in the Process, Directly and Indirectly
    • Taking a Local Viewpoint Where Possible, Building on What’s Familiar to Us.
  • 3. Ours Was Not the First Form of Government in the New World
  • 4. Some Native Towns and Cities Were Well Developed Before We Came Cahokia, now East St Louis, Illinois, around 1200 AD, had nearly 20,000 Residents, and was larger than Paris, France at the same time
  • 5. Western PA Was Largely Part of the Iroquois Confederation of Tribes Shannopin's Town, a Seneca tribe village on the east bank of the Allegheny, at the ‘Forks of the Ohio, was the village of Queen Aliquippa, but was deserted after 1749. The painting here shows Natives observing what was Fort Duquesne and then Fort Pitt. The purple area is the Iroquois tribes; the gray area is the Shawnee and Delaware tribes
  • 6. ‘ Logstown,’ or Shenango, Was the Largest Iroquois Settlement in Our Area ‘ People of the Long Houses’ was the Iroquois name for themselves. About 40 of these made up Logstown, along with several hundred smaller structures.
  • 7. ‘ The Law of Great Peace’ What the Iroquois Called Their Constitution John Rutledge of South Carolina, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, is said to have read lengthy tracts of Iroquoian law to the other framers, beginning with the words "We, the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equity, and order..." In October 1988, the US Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. ‘ Tree of Life,’ the Iroquois symbol for their ‘Great Law’ and its 117 Articles
  • 8. Important Iroquois Treaties with Us
    • 1744 Treaty of Lancaster
    • 1752 Treaty of Logstown
    • 1763 Royal Proclamation
  • 9. Who/Whom? What Constitutions and Treaties Are: A Set of Rules within and between Political Domains Declaring Who Can Do What To Whom and Why ? They come in many varieties…
  • 10. How the 13 Colonies Started: The ‘Companies’ Came First, Virginia and Massachusetts
    • The first form of colonial governments in the New World were ‘Companies’ dispensed by the monarchy for making money by trade and industry
    • The ‘London Company’ was started by upper crust merchants and adventurers, then made official by King James. Later it divided into two, the ‘Plymouth Company’ and the ‘Virginia Company.’ Their territories overlapped.
    • Company investors simply assigned a local council to govern, subject to the King’s approval
    • The Jamestown Settlement started Virginia, which became rich from tobacco and slaves, and the Plymouth Plantation started Massachusetts
  • 11. … More Settlements Soon Followed, and ‘Companies’ Became ‘Colonies’
    • Massachusetts . In 1691, the ‘Province of Massachusetts Bay’ was formed as a ‘ Crown Colony ’ from a merger of the Plymouth Plantations and the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Company.
    • The province retained the theocratic government of the Puritan church officials, whereby Quakers, Catholics and others were persecuted. A harsh interpretation of the Bible was law and ‘witches’ were burned.
    • Settlers fleeing persecution by the Puritan theocrats were involved in the founding of the Provinces of New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
    • Rhode Island was formed on the basis on a ‘land patent’ granted by the Earl of Warwick to Roger Williams. William made it a haven against religious persecution. It was the first colony to declare independence and the first to outlaw slavery
  • 12. Seizing the Colonies of Others: New Netherlands and New Sweden
    • New York was formed by the English seizing New Netherlands from the Dutch Republic in 1674.
    • Parts of New Jersey and Delaware were originally New Sweden , until Sweden lost a war with the Dutch in Europe, and they were absorbed into New Netherlands in 1673.
    • Holland was a republic in this period, and many democratic practices remained in the area of New Netherlands after it passed to the British. In Delaware, Franciscus van den Enden had drawn up charter for a utopian society (that included equal education of all classes, joint owership of property, and democratic rule. Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy attempted such a settlement near the site of Zwaanendael, but it expired under English rule.
  • 13. British Religious Wars and the ‘Proprietary Colony’ of Maryland
    • Maryland was in initially given to Lord Baltimore as a haven for Catholics persecuted by Protestants, but this was reversed after the religious wars in Britain. It changed again with Maryland’s ‘Toleration Act’ allowing rights to ‘Trinitarian’ Christians, but allowed the death sentence to those denying the divinity of Jesus Christ.
    • ‘ Proprietary’ colonies allowed rule by aristocratic landowning families directly, although the King kept indirect power.
  • 14. The Province of Carolina: The ‘Lords Proprietors’ and John Locke
    • In payment for help in restoring him to the throne, given by King Charles II to eight nobles, headed by the Earl of Shaftesbury.
    • Original governing council was half appointed by the Lords, and half selected locally. There was also a weak ‘assembly’ elected by voters with 50 acres of land.
    • The ‘Constitutions,’ combined feudalism and liberalism, also allowing for a landed nobility, ‘ landgraves ’ (48K acres) and ‘ caciques ’ (24K acres). It also included ‘ leetmen ’ (serfs), bondservants and slaves—an official class society .
    John Locke, secretary to Lord Shaftesbury, co-authored the ‘Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina’ Divided in 1712, the province became the royal colonies of North and South Carolina in 1729
  • 15. Province of Georgia: ‘Trustee Colony’ for Debtors, Prisoners and ‘the Worthy Poor’
    • Governed by a ‘ Board of Trustees ’ selected by James Oglethrope, who received a ‘Corporate Charter’ for using the colony to take the pressure off England’s ‘Poor Houses’ and ‘Debtors Prisons.’
    • Originally outlawed in the province, slavery was permitted in 1749 and Georgia became a ‘crown colony’ in 1755.
    • Outlaw classes. Early poor farmers were limited to 50 acres, leading many to move inland. ‘ Georgia Crackers ’ said Lord Dartmouth, were ‘a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers.’
    Drawing of the original Colony of Savannah. Photo shows slave quarters from the 1860s
  • 16. Back to the Province of Pennsylvania: A ‘Restoration’ and ‘Proprietary’ Colony
    • ‘ Woodlands’ granted to William Penn and his heirs as a land grant in what is now New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania for Penn’s financial support in restoring King Charles II
    • William Penn’s 1701 ‘Charter of Privileges’ he extended religious freedom to all monotheists, but only ‘Christians’ could hold office. Many Moravian, Amish and other Protestants arrived.
    • Early Quakers tried fair dealings with Native peoples. Benjamin Franklin was involved in negotiations and printed booklets on the treaties and the Iroquois and other tribes
  • 17. Colonial Diversity and Conflict
    • Different religions and attitudes toward religion. This ranged from totalitarian theocracy in New England to Quaker tolerance in Pennsylvania and Catholicism in Maryland
    • Different Borders. Boundaries between states were contested
    • Different national origins and languages of first settlers. The Dutch founded New York, the Swedes New Jersey and Delaware, the English in New England and the South, free Africans in many states, Germans in the interior farmlands, and Scots-Irish on the Appalachian frontier, and a majority of African slaves in the South.
    • Different political structures. Some colonies had more local autonomy, some had an upper and lower governing body, New England had ‘town meetings’ as well as theocracy, and the franchise was restricted differently
    • Different Economic Interests. New England emphasized trade, shipbuilding and small farms. Merchant trade dominated New York and PA, while larger plantations with slave labor and exports dominated the Southern colonies. Still, commerce among colonies still grew, forming an internal market , as did conflicts with England
  • 18. Uniting Colonies for Self-Defense: Precursors to the US Constitution
    • 1754: Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Albany Conference’ and ‘Plan of Union’
    • 1774: First Continental Congress
    • 1775-1776: Second Continental Congress & the Declaration of Independence
    • 1776-1781: Articles of Confederation
    • 1781-1789: The ‘Confederation Congress’
    Benjamin Franklin’s cartoon from The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754.
  • 19. Articles of Confederation: ‘State Sovereignty’ and the Setting of Limits on the United States of America
    • ‘ Each state retains its sovereignty , freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated.’
    • ‘ The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them…’
    • Each state was equal , with one equal vote, although its delegation, chosen by the state legislature, could be from two to seven men.
  • 20. ‘ Who/Whom?’ and the Articles of Confederation
    • Only the central government was allowed to conduct foreign relations and to declare war . No states could have navies or standing armies, or engage in war, without permission of Congress (although the existence of state militias is encouraged).
    • Whenever an army is raised for common defense, colonels and military ranks below colonel will be named by the state legislatures .
    • Expenditures by the United States of America will be paid by funds raised by state legislatures, and apportioned to the states based on the real property values of each.
    • Freedom of movement ‘for all’ except ‘ vagabonds ,’ ‘ paupers ’ and ‘ fugitives ,’ as defined by each state. Upper class dominance , including slave master dominance .
  • 21. Achievements of the Articles of Confederation
    • Kept the citizens of the several states organized enough, with Washington’s Army and its alliance with France, to defeat Great Britain . Sealed at the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
    • Passed the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which allowed land in the ‘ Northwest Territories ’ beyond the Appalachians to be surveyed and divided into townships and new states but not by expansion of the existing states .
    ‘ Point of Beginning’ Monument near Glasgow, PA at the Ohio line. This marked the easternmost point of the Northwest Territories